by Tanya Kieneker

It’s 6:45pm at our house. “The most wonderful time of the day,” as my husband and I like to call it. Sometimes we even sing this line, with smiles on our faces, to the tune of the familiar Christmas carol. It’s bedtime. Yes, our kids go to bed very early. When your dad is one of the school’s bus drivers and has to leave the house at an obscene hour, the whole house goes to bed early. Much to our delight.

Back to bedtime…

Every single evening, the same scenario plays out. Our six-year-old son, Jaydon, goes to his room to put on his PJ’s. Ten minutes later (he gets distracted with his Star Wars collection and new hockey card obsession), he carries out his pajamas, all in a mess, and asks us to “put them the right way.” I sigh, tell him it’s time he starts learning to do this himself, turn them the right way, and hand them back.

Every single night. You’d think I would have taken the effort to teach him to fix his pajamas from being inside out when he takes them off each morning. But I don’t.

Inside out. The term implies that the inside is the wrong side, doesn’t it? You have to switch it back so that the outside shows again—aka—the right side. (That was confusing.)

When Inside Out was chosen as the title for our blog it of course forced me try to get a little deep, conjure up a few meaningful thoughts, and consider what those words really meant in relation to what we wanted to accomplish with this new piece of communication. As the editor of the blog, I probably should have something meaningful to share on the subject, right? Unfortunately, this mommy brain doesn’t do deep thoughts as much as it used to, so I’ve included this email thread between Julius, ACS Executive Director, and myself.

– – – – – –

Julius: Hey Tanya, just wanted to let you know that the staff voted over Christmas holidays and has chosen Inside  Out as the title of the blog.

Tanya: Sounds good! I’ll start to work on a logo. Not exactly sure how I’m going to illustrate that, but I’m sure inspiration will come. Did the staff give any reasons why they liked that title best?

Julius: Yes, they knew we want the blog to reveal a bit about our personality, our essence and ultimately our “soul.” In their emails to me, a number of them said they feel that what’s inside each of us is what needs to come out…and my sense is that they truly desire the larger community to see what is really inside each of us…our soul. Inside Out just seemed to fit perfectly in this context.

Tanya: We keep on using this word “personality.” Do you think everyone will understand what we mean? I wonder if some people will get confused as to how a school can have a personality.

Julius: If anyone asks, we can explain it this way. ACS is not just a building; it’s not just an institution that provides a service for Christian education. ACS is full of people, full of humanity, full of a community of people who are very different, who are very unique, and who are vastly distinct.

Also, we are an educational institution that prides itself on being ahead of the curve educationally. We are known in the educational community as the school that other educators visit and learn from. We pride ourselves on our innovation, we pride ourselves on our bold and courageous spirit, yet we aren’t the type of school that needs the accolades that the world seeks. So, combine our communal spirit explained above with what we are trying to do educationally and six words come to mind: We are Innovative, Passionate, Courageous, yet we are Humble, Intentional, and Kind. This is our personality!

Tanya: Sounds good! That’s a lot to chew on though. I’m thinking it might be good if we all have some stories to share with people with what that really means for us. Are there any that come to mind that you feel showcase that personality?

Julius: I’ve got tonnes—like the recent POL night, or the amazing Christmas concert that just blew people away, or the fact that our sports teams actually go into hospitals during their down time to pray for the sick…but there is one that will always stick in my memory…It’s when we (Heidi and I) first came to visit the school: I was at the secondary campus doing an interview and Heidi was at the elementary campus just walking around and checking things out. She popped her head into a grade one classroom and caught Mrs. Stelpstra and the children singing, and not just singing—but singing beautifully, and magically, and doing the motions to the song with unbridled emotions that only six-year-olds can portray—and her heart melted…and she called me to tell me her experience…“There is something about this place…I want this for our kids.” And we never looked back.

Tanya: Yes, I can completely relate to that. I was in a meeting once where our child’s teacher actually said to me, “If there is anything in my teaching style that is making things harder for your child, please be honest with me.” I was absolutely shocked at his humility, kindness, and courage to change and improve. I’ll never forget that. That’s definitely a personality trait of ACS I’ve seen on a number of occasions.

So then, the big question is how do we get this personality to show through in the blog?

Julius: We do have big visions for this blog. Our vision is to portray who we really are, not just what we do and where we’re headed, which is in large part what our newsletters accomplish, but rather who it is that is a part of this “village.” Who is this principal that is telling us that we need push hard after Project-Based-Learning? Who is this parent who seems quite quirky, but actually really hilarious when I sit down and talk to her? Who is this teacher at the secondary school (where my child will be in a few years), that everyone says engages kids in discussion in brilliant ways? Who is… who is… who is….

At the end of the day, Tanya, people follow people, not what they do or how they do it. And the people who share stories about themselves, who are able to laugh at themselves, who are able to allow their authentic selves to be exposed (even a little bit)…these are the people that we want to know better. We are drawn to a community of people who aspire to be known. We want to unveil who we are—our personality—in this context.